View Full Version : What's with ligatures.


frabjous
02-25-2010, 03:19 AM
Sorry about editing this post but I split this discussion off from another thread http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=74990 Please discuss ligatures in this thread.


So far as I know, the answer is no. That's not because of the design of the particular file, it's because the epub renderers are not up to such professional-level typography. It'll probably get that way someday, but for now if you want to take your reading to the level of quality that includes things like ligatures, font alternates in professional-level fonts, optical margins, etc., you'll have to stick with PDFs.

So long as the font contains the ligatures, you should be able to use them in an ePub, but you'd have to do the find and replace yourself. Actually doesn't sound so hard, but it would depend on what format the source document is in. The trickiest thing if it's in HTML format, for example, would be avoiding replacing e.g., "fi" with the ligature when it's inside a tag.


InDesign might even have a command to do it. Not sure. Never used it.

But there would be costs: it would screw up, for example, using the dictionary functions of your reader.

I'd hope in the future things like this could be done by the displaying/rendering software, and would't have to be done by editing the source.

But the quotes issue... I haven't investigated it that thoroughly myself, but it doesn't sound as if it would be so hard as people say to autocorrect these. What are the rules?

It would seem to be almost as simple as (for both single and doubles):


After a space, a paragraph/linebreak, a slash, a dash, or a left parenthesis/bracket/brace, a quotation mark is an opening quotation mark.
Every where else, it's a closing quotation mark (or apostrophe, which is the same).

There are a couple exceptions, such as the word `Tis (which could be acommodated), and some other unusual contexts, where these rules are broken, but I think this would do so well that it would definitely be an improvement to implement this even at the risk of an occasional error, as opposed to leaving the quotes straight. (I hate straight quotes.)

But I might be missing something: what other important exceptions are there (for English texts)?

(In any case, I've actually done the above substitutions with regex in books, and usually I'll end up with at most one or two going the wrong way in an entire book.)

I guess there's the intended usage for feet/inches, but actually I think those look fine when not straight -- using it for "prime" in math might be a bigger issue, though I think that would be a rarity and a well-designed math book would already be using a different character there.
"
Anyway, I think I could probably write a sed script that would handle the above, and I'm no programmer.

cmdahler
02-25-2010, 09:13 AM
So long as the font contains the ligatures, you should be able to use them in an ePub, but you'd have to do the find and replace yourself. Actually doesn't sound so hard, but it would depend on what format the source document is in. The trickiest thing if it's in HTML format, for example, would be avoiding replacing e.g., "fi" with the ligature when it's inside a tag.

Yes, that would work as a pretty kludgy workaround if one just really, really wanted or for some reason needed ligatures. But you're right, that would mess up a dictionary, so you'd probably only want to do that in really limited parts of the document that demanded it for some reason.

InDesign might even have a command to do it. Not sure. Never used it.

There's no specific command that would do what you're saying aside from a simple find-and-replace. InDesign, of course, uses ligatures automatically if told to do so, but that formatting is all lost when the doc is exported as an epub.

But the quotes issue... I haven't investigated it that thoroughly myself, but it doesn't sound as if it would be so hard as people say to autocorrect these.

It isn't hard at all, and that's the point: every time I see an ebook with straight quotes, that just screams LAZY to me and means by default that I'm going to find about a million other formatting errors and spelling and punctuation errors in the first 20 pages alone. It ruins the whole reading experience to me. Some people evidently don't mind.

frabjous
02-25-2010, 05:50 PM
Well, you'll definitely want to embed fonts if you plan to try to use ligatures.

To test, I created a one-line text (utf8) file:


My affinity for fish offends floridians.


And converted with calibre to ePub. (The embedded HTML it creates includes the same characters, again with utf8 encoding.)

Calibre's viewer at least showed all the right characters, and the fi and fl ligatures look good, but the ff and ffi ligatures were rendered in a different font. Not exactly a step towards more professional output!

http://people.umass.edu/phil592w-klement/calibre-lig.png

But that's better than what ADE did with it:

http://people.umass.edu/phil592w-klement/ade-lig.png

Here the ff and ffi ligatures were completely missing. (I'd imagine that ffl wouldn't work either. I should have made the floridians affluent, I guess.)

And yeah, searchability broken. I was kind of hopeful that ADE would be smart about this, since Adobe Acrobat and Reader can "see through" ligatures when doing search (as can most PDF software, from what I've seen), ADE certainly can't. Hopefully that'll change.

cmdahler
02-25-2010, 07:27 PM
And yeah, searchability broken. I was kind of hopeful that ADE would be smart about this, since Adobe Acrobat and Reader can "see through" ligatures when doing search (as can most PDF software, from what I've seen), ADE certainly can't. Hopefully that'll change.

Thanks for those examples. You'd sure think Adobe would have included things like ligatures and other font alternates in ADE right out of the gate. Somewhat esoteric things like optical margins and shaped text wrapping around drop caps I could understand as being left out of the first few revisions of ADE, but ligatures are pretty basic typography. And we are talking about software that's supposed to display book text, after all. Sigh. Sometimes it's difficult for me to understand how that company thinks...

DGReader
02-26-2010, 10:27 AM
Ligatures are a typesetting fancy which should be done by the rendering program, and not coded in the source, like kerning and paragraph breaking. Besides, ligatures whould mess text-search.

Yes, I understand. I guess the right question to ask is whether eBook readers (such as the Sony or Kindle) would convert text to ligatures on their own. I suppose the answer is no. I can't even get Safari, Firefox, or Opera to convert adjacent letters to ligatures. Camino, on the other hand, does this beautifully. Here is a screen shot from Camino, and I'll show the source code below.

http://danielgreene.com/images/ligatures_in_camino_browser.png

Source code:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN"
"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml11/DTD/xhtml11.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en-us">
<head>
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
<title>Ligature Test Page</title>
</head>
<body>

<h1 style="font: 72pt 'Hoefler Text'">Afflictions of affluent office file systems</h1>

</body>
</html>

P.S. I realize that another reason this doesn't work for the majority of the Web is that most people don't have Hoefler text. I could suggest Times as an alternative, but most people probably don't have that either. None of the fonts Microsoft puts out, except for the newer OpenType fonts, have any ligatures in them, and none of Microsoft's Core fonts for the Web (http://www.microsoft.com/typography/fonts/web.htm) have ligatures. I don't suppose most eBook readers are preloaded with fonts that have ligatures, either. And even if I embedded a font that has ligatures, I don't know if there would be any way to force all ligatures to be used. Oh well!

P.P.S. I use the words "afflictions" and "systems" to test both the "ffl" ligature and the rarer "ct" and "st" ligatures. I can get these to show up in TextEdit by selecting the text and then selecting Format, Font, Ligatures, Show All. Here's what the HTML page above looks like in TextEdit when I select "Show All" ligatures:

http://danielgreene.com/images/ligatures_in_textedit.png

pdurrant
02-26-2010, 10:48 AM
Yes, I understand. I guess the right question to ask is whether eBook readers (such as the Sony or Kindle) would convert text to ligatures on their own.

This is the best solution - the text in the ebook should not normally contain explicit ligature characters. Instead, the rendering software should use ligatures when available in the font being used.

Jellby
02-26-2010, 11:26 AM
For what is worth, the Unicode FAQ says (emphasis mine):

The existing ligatures exist basically for compatibility and round-tripping with non-Unicode character sets. Their use is discouraged.

What could be used is the zero-with no-joiner (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-width_non-joiner) to avoid ligatures at specific places.

cmdahler
02-26-2010, 11:41 AM
This is the best solution - the text in the ebook should not normally contain explicit ligature characters. Instead, the rendering software should use ligatures when available in the font being used.

Actually, in the end, the user should be able to decide. A well-designed ebook with a good typesetting engine for its reflowable format should present the user with many options. Simple things would be setting margins, default fonts, and setting up the various zoom font levels. Then there should be an advanced tab for people who care about such things to define things like using optical margins, hyphenation, kerning, use of ligatures, maximum and minimum word spacing, maximum and minimum letter spacing, and many other typographical options. In fact, an advanced settings section ought to even include the ability to turn on or off these various options for different zoom levels, since what looks good at a smaller point size might not look so good on large.

frabjous
02-26-2010, 11:58 AM
I suppose the answer is no. I can't even get Safari, Firefox, or Opera to convert adjacent letters to ligatures.

Actually, for me this does work with Firefox (3.5.8 for linux). I switched from Hoefler Text (which I don't have) to Sorts Mill Goudy (http://www.theleagueofmoveabletype.com/fonts/6-sorts-mill-goudy), but otherwise used your xhtml code. (This is a freely available font, as are all the ones on that site.)

http://people.umass.edu/phil592w-klement/firefox-ligs.png

I couldn't get it to work in Chromium or Opera, though. Safari doesn't exist for linux.

Is your version of Hoefler Text OpenType or AAT? I wonder if that makes a difference.

In any case, the fact that this already happens for any major browser (especially an Open Source one) leaves reading device manufacturers with no excuses for not implementing it on their end!

None of the fonts Microsoft puts out, except for the newer OpenType fonts, have any ligatures in them, and none of Microsoft's Core fonts for the Web (http://www.microsoft.com/typography/fonts/web.htm) have ligatures.

On my system, most of these have the fi and fl ligatures, but not the ff, ffl or ffi (or rarer) ligatures -- and this includes Times New Roman.

frabjous, I love the Century Gothic font. I set up my Safari preferences for this font, but I rarely see Web pages that are coded without font faces, so I rarely get to see it on the Web. But maybe I should consider adding my own style sheet. I used to have one merely to suppress hyperlink underlining, but maybe I should revise it to force my preferred font.

The font in the screenshot is URW Gothic L, which is similar to Century Gothic, though from what I've seen, not identical. I don't use Safari, so I don't know how easy it is to use custom stylesheets, but Stylish makes it very easy to do it for Firefox, and you can do it pretty easily in Chrome too. I kind of went nuts making stylesheets for all the sites I visit often when I first discovered Stylish, and I used a different font for each. Actually, Gothic is starting to annoy me, so I'll probably change it soon.

Jellby
02-26-2010, 01:01 PM
On my system, most of these have the fi and fl ligatures, but not the ff, ffl or ffi (or rarer) ligatures -- and this includes Times New Roman.

And I bet they don't have a fj ligature either (as in fjord)... Wait, the fj ligature is not defined in Unicode, though fi is :D

pdurrant
02-26-2010, 01:59 PM
And I bet they don't have a fj ligature either (as in fjord)... Wait, the fj ligature is not defined in Unicode, though fi is :D

Glyphs don't need a unicode defintion to be included and used in fonts. Many OpenType 'Pro' fonts include the fj ligature.

Here's an example from Garamond Premier Pro, set using the bundled TextEdit on Mac OS X 10.5. The ligature is used automatically.

Jellby
02-26-2010, 02:50 PM
Glyphs don't need a unicode defintion to be included and used in fonts.

Indeed, another reason for not using ligatures in the text. They should be applied as needed by the rendering software.

Many OpenType 'Pro' fonts include the fj ligature.

I'm a bit surprised by that :2thumbsup

frabjous
02-26-2010, 04:11 PM
Glyphs don't need a unicode defintion to be included and used in fonts. Many OpenType 'Pro' fonts include the fj ligature.

Actually, even to my surprise, now that I look, there are quite a few Free (and hence freely ePub-embeddable) Open Source fonts that include the fj ligature, including some of my favorites (Linux Libertine, Sorts Mill Goudy, Baskervald ADF, Pali, Old Standard, etc.) and even some I wouldn't have expected (Diavlo, Fontin Sans, Gabriola, Vollkorn) .

http://people.umass.edu/phil592w-klement/fj.png
Too bad ePub software won't really allow us to make the best use of these.

delphidb96
02-26-2010, 05:36 PM
Actually, for me this does work with Firefox (3.5.8 for linux). I switched from Hoefler Text (which I don't have) to Sorts Mill Goudy (http://www.theleagueofmoveabletype.com/fonts/6-sorts-mill-goudy), but otherwise used your xhtml code. (This is a freely available font, as are all the ones on that site.)

http://people.umass.edu/phil592w-klement/firefox-ligs.png

I couldn't get it to work in Chromium or Opera, though. Safari doesn't exist for linux.

Is your version of Hoefler Text OpenType or AAT? I wonder if that makes a difference.

In any case, the fact that this already happens for any major browser (especially an Open Source one) leaves reading device manufacturers with no excuses for not implementing it on their end!



On my system, most of these have the fi and fl ligatures, but not the ff, ffl or ffi (or rarer) ligatures -- and this includes Times New Roman.



The font in the screenshot is URW Gothic L, which is similar to Century Gothic, though from what I've seen, not identical. I don't use Safari, so I don't know how easy it is to use custom stylesheets, but Stylish makes it very easy to do it for Firefox, and you can do it pretty easily in Chrome too. I kind of went nuts making stylesheets for all the sites I visit often when I first discovered Stylish, and I used a different font for each. Actually, Gothic is starting to annoy me, so I'll probably change it soon.

The biggest problem with ligatures - in general - is that their use presumes: a) the reader's eyes are not SHOT! (Mine are and I have eyeglass prescriptions to prove it.) b) the lighting is suitable for their use. (Again, NOT a smart presumption for these tired eyes.) c) the device can handle large enough font size to compensate for the two former. (Well, yes, I *can* always confine my e-reader use to my desktop computer or my Cybook Gen3, but doing so requires me to stuff a 36pt or larger font onto the screen in some lighting situations - and I get SO tired of reading two words, pressing 'next page', reading two more words, pressing 'next page', reading another two words, pressing 'next page'...)

So, for me, ligatures are a non-starter. Period. They may work well for you, but not for me. And outside of textbooks and technical manuals where the lack of competing literature force me to put up with them, I tend to avoid printed works that rely on them. Thus, I really don't care whether the applications on my ereaders do an adequate job of displaying them as I tend to filter them out when format-shifting.

Derek

pdurrant
02-26-2010, 05:38 PM
Too bad ePub software won't really allow us to make the best use of these.

Yes. The rendering engines could do with a lot of improvements, especially as displays get to be higher resolution. The Mirasol display is going to be about 225 dpi or so. We can't be many years off a high quality 300dpi paper-like display.

DaleDe
02-26-2010, 06:32 PM
Yes. The rendering engines could do with a lot of improvements, especially as displays get to be higher resolution. The Mirasol display is going to be about 225 dpi or so. We can't be many years off a high quality 300dpi paper-like display.

I do not believe display resolution has anything to do with ligature use. The purpose of ligatures are to improve the character spacing visually when the smallest space was a point size (only 72 dpi). They really wouldn't be needed at all if the resolution was high enough to adjust the spacing on a character by character basis. Of course the actual outline shape might look a little better with high resolution but this is not a ligature issue and anti-aliasing techniques pretty much take care of this anyway.

I do believe that the source eBooks should never use ligatures. Ligatures should be added by the rendering engine as one method among others to improve character tracking. EBooks should be sources and not attempt to force rendering, fix tracking, etc. You can read about typography in our wiki.

Dale

frabjous
02-26-2010, 06:45 PM
The biggest problem with ligatures - in general - is that their use presumes: a) the reader's eyes are not SHOT! (Mine are and I have eyeglass prescriptions to prove it.) b) the lighting is suitable for their use. (Again, NOT a smart presumption for these tired eyes.) c) the device can handle large enough font size to compensate for the two former.

I'm surprised to learn of your reaction. As should be clear from some of the intermediate posts, ligatures, and other more advanced typographical measures, are supposed to make text easier to read, not harder. There's a lot of reseach done to suggest that we don't process every letter in every word, and rely on cues from the overall word shape, and ligatures, from what I understand, are designed in part to keep that shape consistent and "flowing".

Ligatures are in almost all professionally typeset material, and have been for centuries; most people just don't notice them. If my eyes were bad, I'd expect that I probably would just not notice them either, not that they would bother me somehow.

Similarly, if my vision were bad, I doubt I'd notice the difference between straight and curly quotation marks, but I think I'd still subliminally get part of their intended positive effect of leading the eyes.

But obviously my speculation is worthless as anything more than that. I wonder if studies have been done on their effect, and certainly, what holds good in general might not hold good for everyone... and I certainly don't dispute that they cause you trouble.

charleski
02-26-2010, 08:27 PM
I do not believe display resolution has anything to do with ligature use.Yes, they're simply a resolution of circumstances in which the characters would otherwise collide in an unsightly manner. The ugliness is a bit more apparent on high-res displays though.

I do believe that the source eBooks should never use ligatures. Ligatures should be added by the rendering engine as one method among others to improve character tracking.The real problem lies in the extremely limited processor power available. Since readers need to conserve power, their processors are generally very poky and barely have enough grunt to lay out the page as it is. Witness how much faster the PRS600 turns pages compared to the 505 or 300 - that's nothing to do with the display, it's simply the result of a faster processor.

While everyone gets excited about new display tech (and yes, the 225dpi Mirasol display does look quite exciting, unlike all the others that I've heard of), there are a lot of improvements that will come simply by having more horsepower under the hood. I just hope that Adobe is working on a version of ADE with a full set of rendering improvements (smart typography, hyphenation to support smart justification with tracking adjustment, etc) that will make use of the increased power of the integrated single-chip solutions that are being developed.

EBooks should be sources and not attempt to force renderingWell, an ePub is a final delivery container rather than a source document. If you want certain features right now, your only option is to hard-code them. What matters in an ePub is what the reader sees on the screen.

frabjous
02-27-2010, 12:27 AM
The real problem lies in the extremely limited processor power available. Since readers need to conserve power, their processors are generally very poky and barely have enough grunt to lay out the page as it is.

I have a hard time believing that this particular function would require much processor resources at all. Heck, the sed program, which could handle something like this, dates to 1973.

I just hope that Adobe is working on a version of ADE with a full set of rendering improvements (smart typography, hyphenation to support smart justification with tracking adjustment, etc) that will make use of the increased power of the integrated single-chip solutions that are being developed.

From your lips (or fingertips) to God's (or Adobe's) ears!

delphidb96
02-27-2010, 01:06 AM
I'm surprised to learn of your reaction. As should be clear from some of the intermediate posts, ligatures, and other more advanced typographical measures, are supposed to make text easier to read, not harder. There's a lot of reseach done to suggest that we don't process every letter in every word, and rely on cues from the overall word shape, and ligatures, from what I understand, are designed in part to keep that shape consistent and "flowing".

Ligatures are in almost all professionally typeset material, and have been for centuries; most people just don't notice them. If my eyes were bad, I'd expect that I probably would just not notice them either, not that they would bother me somehow.

Similarly, if my vision were bad, I doubt I'd notice the difference between straight and curly quotation marks, but I think I'd still subliminally get part of their intended positive effect of leading the eyes.

But obviously my speculation is worthless as anything more than that. I wonder if studies have been done on their effect, and certainly, what holds good in general might not hold good for everyone... and I certainly don't dispute that they cause you trouble.

"Supposed to" is not true for me. I note that you consistently state 'if my eyes' or 'if my vision' were bad. Well, obviously it ain't so until you've read 1,000,000 pages with *my* eyes, you'll never know how hard all the ligature stuff can be on small-display devices. Don't worry, you'll get there soon enough.

Until that time, feel free to enjoy all your document formatting you so love. :)

Derek

HarryT
02-27-2010, 04:40 AM
I do believe that the source eBooks should never use ligatures. Ligatures should be added by the rendering engine as one method among others to improve character tracking. EBooks should be sources and not attempt to force rendering, fix tracking, etc.

"oe" and "ae" ligatures are present in pretty much every font, and are extremely common in British English, although both have been very largely replaced with a simple "e" in US English (with the interesting exception of the word "phoenix", although I note that there is a place called "Phenix City" in Alabama).

Valloric
02-27-2010, 07:22 AM
Witness how much faster the PRS600 turns pages compared to the 505 or 300 - that's nothing to do with the display, it's simply the result of a faster processor.

AFAIK this doesn't have much to do with a faster processor, but a better E-Ink controller - a software/firmware issue.

I could be wrong.

DaleDe
02-27-2010, 12:15 PM
"oe" and "ae" ligatures are present in pretty much every font, and are extremely common in British English, although both have been very largely replaced with a simple "e" in US English (with the interesting exception of the word "phoenix", although I note that there is a place called "Phenix City" in Alabama).

Ah, yes, but I was referring to stylistic ligatures. Alphabetic ligatures are needed in the source, often just to indicate the date of the source. I would not change the spelling of a classic in this regard. But that is much different than stylistic ligatures such as the various forms of f with following letters. Those are only for presentation, not pronunciation. Even W was once an alphabetic ligature and is the youngest letter in our alphabet.

The two usages of ligatures are so different there really needs to be a different name for them.

Dale

HarryT
02-27-2010, 12:28 PM
Ah, yes, but I was referring to stylistic ligatures. Alphabetic ligatures are needed in the source, often just to indicate the date of the source.

Sorry, Dale, I'm not with you. What I mean is that, for example, British books will still almost always use the spelling "encylopdia", with a ligature, rather than use separate letters and spell the word "encyclopaedia". Is there a difference between ligatures such as "" and "" and the ones we've been discussing previously?

DaleDe
02-27-2010, 12:38 PM
Sorry, Dale, I'm not with you. What I mean is that, for example, British books will still almost always use the spelling "encylopdia", with a ligature, rather than use separate letters and spell the word "encyclopaedia". Is there a difference between ligatures such as "" and "" and the ones we've been discussing previously?

Yes, those are all alphabetic ligatures. These are not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is the examples already used in this thread. You are the first to bring up alphabetic ligatures which are designed as pronunciation ligatures (function as alphabetic letters) in that they modify the phoneme itself. Check ligatures our wiki article on typography or typographic ligature in the wikipedia.

Stylistic ligatures include such things as: fi, fj fl (fl), ff (ff), ffi (ffi), and ffl (ffl). Hope this is clearer.

Dale

HarryT
02-27-2010, 03:56 PM
Thanks, Dale; I didn't know until now that there was a difference between the two "types" (no pun intended) of ligature.

delphidb96
02-27-2010, 06:08 PM
Thanks, Dale; I didn't know until now that there was a difference between the two "types" (no pun intended) of ligature.

There's a third kind - usually found around the necks of victims of strangulation. (See! I really DO watch too many mystery/suspense shows!) :D

Derek

charleski
02-27-2010, 07:38 PM
I have a hard time believing that this particular function would require much processor resources at all. Heck, the sed program, which could handle something like this, dates to 1973.Each ligature substitution is another check that needs to be made while pre-processing the stream for display. In isolation, you could probably add that in without inducing a noticeable increase in the delay. Add up all the rest, though, especially hyphenation and tracking adjustments for justification, and a 505 would crawl.

AFAIK this doesn't have much to do with a faster processor, but a better E-Ink controller - a software/firmware issue.
The Epson controller in the 600 probably makes a big difference, but I think that's largely because its paralellism frees up cycles on the main cpu (which is running twice as fast as the one in the 505).

frabjous
02-27-2010, 11:51 PM
Each ligature substitution is another check that needs to be made while pre-processing the stream for display. In isolation, you could probably add that in without inducing a noticeable increase in the delay. Add up all the rest, though, especially hyphenation and tracking adjustments for justification, and a 505 would crawl.

Possibly. Surely the fact that Sony-ready ePubs break their source into limited size chunks provides some help. But even if this is too much for a 505, surely we should keep pushing for something better; the hardware will surely catch up to the requirements soon if it's not there yet!

WillAdams
03-01-2010, 10:15 AM
The combined forms and œ are diphthongs, not ligatures and should only be used when linguistically appropriate.

HarryT
03-01-2010, 01:06 PM
The combined forms and are diphthongs, not ligatures and should only be used when linguistically appropriate.

The Wiki article on typographic ligatures disagrees with you:

comes from Medieval Latin, where it was an optional ligature in some words, for example, "neas". It is still found as a variant in English and French, but the trend has recently been towards printing the A and E separately.[5] Similarly, and , while normally printed as ligatures in French, can be replaced by component letters if technical restrictions require it.

WillAdams
03-01-2010, 01:25 PM
HarryT, Look up Bringhurst's _Elements of Typographic Style_ instead.

Here's a page which references that:

http://en.allexperts.com/e/0/.htm

William

DaleDe
03-01-2010, 02:12 PM
HarryT, Look up Bringhurst's _Elements of Typographic Style_ instead.

Here's a page which references that:

http://en.allexperts.com/e/0/.htm

William

Forbidden access. However http://en.allexperts.com/e/l/li/ligature_(typography).htm
agrees with the definition in wikipedia.

frabjous
03-01-2010, 02:16 PM
Funny the link works for me (not forbidden), but the page encoding is set wrong, so the characters, including the ligatures/geaphemes/diphthongs or whatever they in fact are--are all garbled.

DaleDe
03-01-2010, 02:18 PM
Funny the link works for me (not forbidden), but the page encoding is set wrong, so the characters, including the ligatures/geaphemes/diphthongs or whatever they in fact are--are all garbled.

However http://en.allexperts.com/e/l/li/ligature_(typography).htm
agrees with the definition in wikipedia.

Dale

DaleDe
03-01-2010, 04:23 PM
This is an important topic. Unfortunately the original poster to http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=74990 mixed the problem of curley quotes with ligatures. I have separated this into two threads so that the separate discussions can continue.

Dale

charleski
03-01-2010, 07:36 PM
Forbidden access. However http://en.allexperts.com/e/l/li/ligature_(typography).htm
agrees with the definition in wikipedia.
I can see the page too. Here's the relevant passage (you need to set your browser encoding to utf-8 frabjous):
Æ is a grapheme formed from the letters a and e. Originally a ligature representing a Latin diphthong, it has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of many languages.
...
In English, usage of the ligature varies in different places. In modern typography, and where technological limitations prevent (such as in use of computers and typewriters), æ is often eschewed for the digraph ae. This is often considered incorrectSo there you are, if you trust whoever wrote that, it's actually a grapheme :). Actually, since that section is just lifted from Wikipedia, the page's history (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=%C3%86&oldid=7989747) shows that the definition as a grapheme was inserted by OwenBlacker (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:OwenBlacker), FWIW, so we're relying on the opinions of a software development manager with a degree in molecular biology.

I think the real distinction is that ligatures are set for purely stylistic reasons, to avoid ugly shapes caused by character collisions. Æ and œ, on the other hand, have a well-defined history as characters that are distinct from their constituent letters. They are both (in English anyway) well on the way to being discarded just as the Old English þ became th in the 14th century.

DaleDe
03-01-2010, 09:17 PM
I can see the page too. Here's the relevant passage (you need to set your browser encoding to utf-8 frabjous):
So there you are, if you trust whoever wrote that, it's actually a grapheme :). Actually, since that section is just lifted from Wikipedia, the page's history (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=%C3%86&oldid=7989747) shows that the definition as a grapheme was inserted by OwenBlacker (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:OwenBlacker), FWIW, so we're relying on the opinions of a software development manager with a degree in molecular biology.

I think the real distinction is that ligatures are set for purely stylistic reasons, to avoid ugly shapes caused by character collisions. Æ and œ, on the other hand, have a well-defined history as characters that are distinct from their constituent letters. They are both (in English anyway) well on the way to being discarded just as the Old English þ became th in the 14th century.

I would like it if that were the distinction but other references confirm that a ligature is any two characters combined into one without regard to the purpose. They are all graphemes as well as are all the letters and figures and other graphic entities like punctuation. Whether they are part of the alphabet depends on the language as are letters with accent marks. Some are and some are not. Try looking in a dictionary.

Dale

charleski
03-01-2010, 11:27 PM
I would like it if that were the distinction but other references confirm that a ligature is any two characters combined into one without regard to the purpose. They are all graphemes as well as are all the letters and figures and other graphic entities like punctuation. Whether they are part of the alphabet depends on the language as are letters with accent marks. Some are and some are not. Try looking in a dictionary.

DaleMaybe I was being too subtle with the reference to OwenBlacker...

The ligatures that we're talking about in this thread (ff, fi, fj, etc) are glyph substitutions that are made purely for stylistic reasons. Bringhurst calls these 'typographic ligatures'.

OTOH, the ae in 'encyclopdia' [doh, now the character shows in ISO-8859-1 but not in utf-8] is completely different to the ae in 'metaethics' and Bringhurst terms this a 'lexical ligature'. In the first case you may choose to use the ligated form, you may choose to use separate characters, or you may simply drop the 'a' altogether, depending on the lexical style you wish to adopt. In the second case the only correct usage is to set the two characters separately.

DaleDe
03-02-2010, 02:00 AM
Thank you, they are both ligatures by you own quote. Just different kinds. I know that we were talking about stylistic ligatures until Harry brought up the other kind and he didn't know about stylistic ligatures at all so I was explaining the difference. However, then the discussion said that only stylistic ligatures are ligatures and that is wrong as by your quote there are lexical ligatures. I am fine with that distinction. It was only stylistic ligatures that I meant when I said they should not be used in a source file.

Dale

HarryT
03-02-2010, 03:47 AM
Thank you, they are both ligatures by you own quote. Just different kinds. I know that we were talking about stylistic ligatures until Harry brought up the other kind and he didn't know about stylistic ligatures at all so I was explaining the difference.

Oh, I knew about them; what I hadn't appreciated was that there was a distinction made between the two "kinds" of ligature. I now do understand that difference so, for me at least, this has been a very useful thread!

Jellby
03-02-2010, 09:12 AM
Ligatures sometimes get an entity as a separate letter or symbol. Things like "", "w", "", "&" began as simple ligatures (typographic ligatures, I'd say), but are now mostly considered letters on their own.

frabjous
03-03-2010, 01:31 AM
A lot of the time, I wish I didn't even know about the existence of ligatures.

At least with the fi/fl/ffl/ffi/ff ligatures, most of my life, I didn't even notice they were there when they were there, and didn't notice when they were gone. It's only when I started investigating why it is I found LaTeX output subtly better than MS Word output without really realizing why that I learned about such things.

Now of course, I'm cursed to noticing both their presence and their absence, and both are little distracting. Good typography of course is invisible typography, and normally it would be--I've basically made by own book reading experience worse by picking at it.

Generally, however, I think the inclusion of ligatures looks nice, but there is one exception: I've noticed that a lot of "Pro" fonts like Adobe Garamond Pro and Minion Pro, etc., have "Th" ligatures, which for some reason, just seem over the top to me.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=46995&d=1267594074

Valloric
03-03-2010, 08:10 PM
It's only when I started investigating why it is I found LaTeX output subtly better than MS Word output without really realizing why that I learned about such things.

"Subtly better"? That goes in my "euphemism of the week" box. :)

frabjous
03-03-2010, 09:02 PM
LOL. All I mean is that, at least at first, I found it difficult to articulate in words what was so better looking about it...